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Jimmy Scott's High & Tight: The Ed Kranepool Interview


By Jimmy Scott - Posted on 11 January 2010

Ed Kranepool.  Owner and GM of the New York Mets.  Back in 1979, this was a distinct possibility. 

Baseball in New York was very different in 1979 than it was in 1969, when the Mets (and Ed Kranepool) won the World Series.  By the 1979 season, the Yankees had played in three successive World Series, winning two.  Even though the Yankees would finish in 4th place that season, they were still a competitive team (89 wins) with big stars like Reggie Jackson and Ron Guidry.

The Mets, on the other hand, had gone through a major image shift.  Perennial "loveable" losers in the '60s, they were just losers by '79, losing 99 games and finishing in last place, 35 games behind the "We Are Family" Pittsburgh Pirates.  The Mets didn't have one star player.  Their biggest power threat, Lee Mazzilli, hit 16 home runs.  Craig Swan, who'd won the ERA title in 1977, was the ace of the staff with 14 wins.  No other pitcher on the team won more than 6 games.  For the first time since the team's (and Ed Kranepool's) inaugural season in 1962 - played in the Polo Grounds, the Mets failed to draw 1 million fans.

The team had fallen apart on the field and off.  With the death of owner Joan Whitney Payson in 1975, the team had been run by a combination of her daughter, Lorinda de Roulet, Wall Street stockbroker M. Donald Grant, and General Manager Joe McDonald.  Despite a competitive 1976 season, the Mets' front office had failed to capitalize, letting pride and the media drive the trade of "The Franchise," Tom Seaver, to Cincinnati in 1977 and also trades of one-time power threat Dave Kingman and pitchers Jon Matlack and Jerry Koosman.  The thriving free agent market was already dominated by the crosstown Yankees and owner George Steinbrenner.  Riding an all-time low in popularity, ownership decided to sell the team in September, 1979.

One of the first to know of this was Ed Kranepool.  In the Jimmy Scott's High & Tight Interview with Ed Kranepool, you can listen to the story about how close he and his investment group came to purchasing the team. 

He'd had a good relationship with M. Donald Grant and the Payson family (he was a pallbearer at Joan Payson's funeral).  And with his career winding down, he felt the next logical step was a role with the team in player development or as GM.  His investment group approached the team about a sale that September.  The timing was right.  If the sale could be closed quickly, there would be a full winter to begin the rebuilding process.  The money was there.  Kranepool believed he had the ability to pull it off.

Nothing happened.

The de Roulets couldn't move quickly enough.  They turned down the offer, eventually closing a deal with Nelson Doubleday and (current owner) Fred Wilpon in February, 1980.  The team would suffer through four more years of losing before finding success in 1984 and beginning the process of turning the city of New York back into a Mets town, culminating in a 1986 World Series win.

So what happened?  And what has Ed Kranepool done ever since?  Listen to him tell you this story and also give you his personal feelings about Tug McGraw, Casey Stengel, Gil Hodges, Joe Frazier and more.  It's the complete untold story of a direction the Mets could have followed, but chose not to.  And it's all here for you to hear at your leisure.

So there you go.  Now you know.  Now it's time to listen.

One Note: Ed's voice is a little low in this interview, so pretend you're listening to Metallica and turn this one up.

Special thanks to MintPros.com for their help with this interview.  Go there today to find some great authentic signed merchandise.

THE MUSIC

Soundtrack - Risky Business

The Police - Darkness

Soundtrack - Jerry Maguire

Paul McCartney - Singalong Junk

Dynamite, man. Interesting to hear Ed kill Joe McDonald while basically letting his bosses off the hook. You'd think if McDonald were so incompetent, Grant could have done something to have prevented him for having floated to the top after a stack of his superiors came and went. McDonald was actually like Kranepool in that both joined the club as pups in '62 and they lasted about as long.

It was sort of a shame how Krane's career came to an end without any acknowledgment from the team but I think there was still hope he'd be back in 80 if not with the Mets than someone else. At that time teams interested in signing free agents had to "draft" them, but nobody did for Kranepool that off-season, that's basically what ended it for him.

Great stuff, thanks!

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